>U Mom Knows Best: How Parenting Today Is Different and Harder: The Complete Guide

Monday, August 7, 2023

How Parenting Today Is Different and Harder: The Complete Guide

 An increasing percentage of adults are choosing not to have children. Why is that? Is it because so many people talk about how parenting today is different and harder than it was in the past? 

 Whether or not parenting is any more difficult now than it was in the past is up for debate, but it's clear that many parents are overwhelmed. Parenting is no walk in the park, that's for sure. 

 We're here to talk about some of the challenges that modern parents face as well as a few things you can do to make your life easier. Read on to learn more.

How Parenting Today Is Different and Harder

 It's no secret that being a parent has never been easy, per se. It's no longer a "default" life stage, however, so not everyone is expected to go through it. It's also changed a lot over the years, so things that were once simpler are now far more complex (and vice versa). 

 Being a parent isn't exactly harder now than it used to be, but it does come with unique challenges that parents of the past may not have dealt with. On that note, there are plenty of things that make parenting nowadays easier than it has been in previous decades. 

 Let's talk about a few things that modern parents have to deal with that may have been less common (or nonexistent) in previous generations. 

Higher Expectations

 In some circles (though not all), there are higher expectations of parents (and children) than ever. Perfection no longer seems like an unreachable goal; it seems like a standard that parents are expected to meet. This is a serious problem.

 There's no such thing as a perfect parent, but people are quick to "call out" parenting faux pas that they witness either in person or online. 

  A parent can do something odd or nontraditional and immediately catch flak from it on their social media page from strangers all over the world. Even if the parent was in the right, the damage will already be done.

 Even if the parent was wrong, being wrong or less than perfect is okay. However, the amount of pressure that comes from this need for perfection can be overwhelming.

 All parents want to do the best possible job for their kids, but it seems like the "best" is always growing further out of reach. For impressionable new parents, this can be exhausting. 

Conflicting Information

 With the internet being the way it is, there is endless information about parenting available. With so much information, it's easy to get confused and overwhelmed. 

 One day there will be an article about why you absolutely should do a specific thing for your children. The next week, an article will come out refuting that original article.

 With hundreds of thousands of parenting "experts" on the web all giving conflicting advice, it's impossible to know what's right and what's wrong.

Busier Work Schedules

 Parents today are busier than ever. The cost of living is incredibly high, and most households need two earners. Being a stay-at-home parent is not attainable for many people.

 Parents don't have as much time to spend with their children. They don't have time to teach, play, or otherwise connect. They're too busy with work.

 On top of that, working parents often experience high levels of judgment. 

 Children without enough at-home support can fall behind in school and display bad behaviors, but it isn't always the fault of the parents. If parents have fallen on hard times financially, there aren't other options available. 

 Busier work schedules also keep parents tired and overwhelmed. They have less time to relax and recharge. 

Dispersed Support Networks

 At one time, it was normal to have a supportive network of friends and family members nearby. People lived in smaller communities and often stayed close to their families long-term. Some even lived in intergenerational households.

 That's no longer the case. Many people don't have tight-knit support networks anymore. They move far away from their friends and family members for work and opportunities.

 It's great that people have the option to move and see the world, but an unfortunate side effect is that people no longer have the same amount of support for their kids. 

 People need more help with childcare and basic child-rearing, but they no longer have a "village" to turn to. This can be incredibly isolating. 

Social Media Challenges 

 Now more than ever, parents have to deal with social media in their day-to-day lives. This comes with several problems.

 Comparison is a large problem on social media. Parents may see other parents online who look like they have everything all figured out. They've got their children in fancy Montessori-friendly bedrooms, they're using classy Silver Cross Dune Strollers, and their homes are perfectly organized.

 This may make some parents feel inadequate, even if it shouldn't. Remember that social media is a highlight reel and people rarely show their average experiences. 

Social media is also full of misinformation, bringing us back to the conflicting information point.

 When it comes to children, social media can be addictive and harmful. Older children may struggle with their self-esteem as a result of their social media use. They also open themselves up to contact from potential predators. 

 Social media isn't bad, but it does create challenges for parents. 

Higher Expenses

 Raising a child is expensive, especially in the United States. Daycare can cost more than the average mortgage, and for many people, that's unattainable. 

 Add in the future cost of college, cars, food, housing, and everything else that parents need in order to take care of their children, and it becomes clear that raising a child on a budget can seem impossible. 

 It's never been cheap to raise a child, but the ever-increasing cost of living certainly isn't doing most people any favors. 

Helpful Tips for Parents

 So what can you do to offset some of these problems? The internet is full of parenting tips (some more helpful than others), but we've compiled a few of our favorites that can help frustrated parents get back on track and raise happy children.

Here are just a few of our best tips for great parents. 

Work Together If Possible

 Parenting alone isn't easy. It adds even more challenges. If it's possible to do so, a parent with a partner or the child's other parent.

 However, this isn't always possible. There are plenty of reasons why someone may not be able to co-parent, and that's okay. In that case, if it's an option, try to stay close to a support network.

 That support network can be your family, your "chosen family," or just other parents in your community who are all willing to help each other.

If this is an option for you, it will make life much less stressful for both you and your child(ren). 

Use Any and All Available Resources

 Don't be afraid to use your resources, especially if you're struggling with the financial side of parenting. 

 There are many national resources for parents. You should take advantage of them if you need them. They can help put food on the table and keep your housing secure.

 You should also take advantage of personal resources. If friends or family members are offering to babysit or help out, it's okay to say "yes" every now and again. Don't feel like you're being a burden! 

Shop Secondhand

 As we mentioned before, raising a child (or multiple children) can be incredibly expensive. There are ways to cut costs.

 When it comes to many of your child-related belongings, shop secondhand. There are a few things you should avoid secondhand shopping for (such as car seats), but for most items, secondhand is fine.

 Look at local "buy nothing" groups for parents. You can often find children's clothes and gently-used toys that other parents are trying to get rid of. You can give them a second life with your little one. 

 Children grow fast. Buying brand-new items for them all the time isn't necessary, especially when they're still young. Buy secondhand and then donate or sell the items again when your child no longer needs them, as long as they're still in good condition. 

Take Care of Yourself

 Parents often find themselves burning the candle at both ends. They try to give everything to their children, but as a result, they have nothing left for themselves. Don't let this happen to you.

 Happy parents raise happy children. You won't be happy or well-rested all the time, but you should do your best to keep yourself content.

 Do things for yourself. See a therapist, engage in hobbies, and make sure that you're taking care of your body. Make sure you nurture your relationships and keep them healthy. Many people find that their romantic and platonic relationships fall apart after having children, but this doesn't have to be the case.

Your children are your priority, and that's fantastic. However, you also need to prioritize yourself. 

Allow Yourself to Make Mistakes

 As a parent, you're going to make mistakes. Your child may get a bump on the head every now and then. You may learn about something you've done that's unsafe or otherwise not recommended.

 It's okay. All parents make mistakes, even if they seem like "super parents" online. If you beat yourself up for those mistakes, you'll get overwhelmed.

Make mistakes and learn from them. 

This also sets a good example for your child. If your child sees you getting distraught over mistakes, they'll learn that mistakes are bad or shameful. Let your child know that mistakes are normal. 

Let Your Child Learn

 Speaking of your child making mistakes, let those mistakes happen! Let your child be less than perfect. Praise effort over success.

 Children being given space to make mistakes helps them grow their confidence. It helps them learn new things and navigate the world. Yes, it's stressful to see your child making an obvious mistake, but it's an opportunity for them to grow. 

 Children who don't have space for mistakes may turn into perfectionists as adults. This may sound like a good thing, but it can be incredibly detrimental to their mental health. 

Limit Screen Time to an Extent 

 Screen time isn't the enemy, but it also isn't good for children. You don't have to live in a screen-free household (this isn't super realistic), but you should do your best to limit screen time.

 Don't give your child a screen to soothe them during a tantrum unless it's absolutely necessary. This teaches the child that the reward for a tantrum is something fun. 

 Try to engage your child in other types of play instead. Get outside and have fun. Screens are great for quiet time or when a babysitter is over, but they shouldn't be the default option. 

Start Saving

 This isn't possible for everyone, but if it's possible for you, start saving money as soon as you can.

 It's a good idea to start saving before the child even arrives. Putting away a small amount of money every week or month will set your child up for success when they're old enough to go out on their own.

 Money can be a huge problem for families. Even if it's only a few dollars per week, that money you're saving for your child will make a difference. 

Parenting Is Tough, But You're Tougher

 Everyone talks about how parenting today is different and harder than it has been in the past. It may not be harder per se, but it is different. Those differences are manageable, however.

 If you're a struggling parent, just know that you're not alone. There are plenty of other parents out there making it work.

 For more helpful tips about parenting and raising happy children, check out the rest of the blog. 

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